Foot pain is a common injury in young athletes. Because children are still growing, their bones and muscles are not as strong as those in an adult's body. They also have more flexible joints, which makes them more prone to injuries. As a result, foot and ankle pain is a common complaint among young athletes.
While most minor aches and pains will go away with some rest, it's important to seek medical attention if the pain persists or worsens. If your child is experiencing foot or ankle pain, the first step should be to consult with a podiatrist, sometimes referred to as a foot specialist. A foot specialist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating problems with the feet and ankles.
Many young athletes come in with heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures, and other common injuries and work with the foot specialist to develop a treatment plan that will help them heal quickly and get back to their sport.
Why Use a Foot Specialist?
A foot specialist can provide your child with a full evaluation to determine the cause of their pain. Once the source of the problem has been identified, they can create a treatment plan that will address the issue and help your child heal quickly. Treatment plans may include:
- Rest and ice. A parent's first line of defense for treating their child's foot pain is often rest and ice. Resting the injured foot will help reduce inflammation and allow the tissue to heal. Applying ice to the area can also help reduce swelling and discomfort.
- Stretching and exercises. The foot specialist may recommend specific exercises to help strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the injury site, speeding up healing time and preventing future problems.
- Orthotic devices. If your child has flat feet or high arches, they may benefit from wearing orthotics—custom-fitted shoe inserts. The orthotics can correct their biomechanics and relieve pain. Custom orthotics like this are specifically designed for young athletes.
- Surgery. Unfortunately, in some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct a problem with your child's foot or ankle. This is usually only considered if all other treatment options have failed to alleviate pain or improve function.
If your child is experiencing foot or ankle pain, don't wait for it to go away on its own. Seek medical attention from a foot specialist right away. They specialize in helping young athletes recover from injuries so they can get back to doing what they love.